Jump Rhythm Jazz Family Dance Matinee (plus some thoughts on why music and movement are good for your little ones)

In celebration of its 20th Anniversary Season, the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project will present "Jump Rhythm Technique and the
Language of Rhythm" for the Family Dance Matinee at 3:00 p.m. on
Saturday, February 20 at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (1306 South Michigan Avenue).

This educational and entertaining, audience-interactive
lecture-demonstration will begin at 2:15 p.m. with audience members
joining the performers onstage for a parent/child movement workshop,
followed by the 3 p.m. hour-long performance.

Jump Rhythm's program
will provide an opportunity for families to experience the pleasures of
both watching and doing Jump Rhythm's signature "full-bodied

For tickets, call (312) 369-8330 or visit www.colum.edu/dancecenter. Family Dance Matinee tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for

This sounds like a fabulous family event -- but don't just take my word for it. I had a
chance to ask some of the moms on the Board of the Jump Rhythm Jazz
Project about their thoughts on this event and the importance of music
and movement for kids in general.

The "Mom Panel" included Board
members and former Jump Rhythm Jazz dancers Kari Kudson Christopher (Benefit Committee Chair), Corey Yarnell Lozier (Board President),
and Annie Beserra (Secretary-Treasurer).

Here is what they had to say.

Windy City: Why should dance and music be a part of kids' lives? Tell
us about the benefits you've witnessed in your work with children and

Kari: Dance and music has been a big part of my
children's lives. I have found that movement at a young age fulfills a
great desire to express oneself and have fun (read to get energy out).
It is natural for all little ones to want to move around when they hear
music. I have seen my son's coordination develop as well as his
confidence, as evidenced now in his athletic endeavors (he plays ice
hockey). Music has contributed to the increase of my children's
vocabulary and sense of rhythm. Lots of children's music has hand
movements that go with the words (i.e. Itsy bitsy spider, wheels on the
bus, etc.) which encourages coordination between their voice and their
bodies as well as helps them to understand the meaning of the words. I
believe being exposed to music and dance at an early age sets a solid
foundation for later appreciation of the performing arts.

Dance and music should be a part of every child's life, without a
doubt! The human brain is very complex, and there are many neurological
links between academic or intellectual learning and movement. Music and
movement also offer an emotional release, and another way, besides
language, for a growing person to express himself. The benefits of
including movement and music in a child's life are countless. In my
work as a dance teacher for kids aged 3-18, as well as with my own
9-month old son, I have seen the impact that music and movement has. At
the dance studio, I see children gaining confidence each time they
master a step; I see them smiling when the are jumping and leaping
through the air with abandon, just for the fun of it; I see them
understanding rhythm and learning patterns and sequencing when we put
together tap steps to jazz music. At home with my baby, I see him
learning about cause and effect each time he bangs his hand on his drum
and learning about the world around him each time I skip around the
house with him in my arms.

Annie: Kiddos are born singing and
dancing. I'm witnessing this first hand with my 6-week-old and
2-year-old. Those first cries and squirms quickly shift into simple
compositions. My 2-year-old's latest hit is "Fire Boots," a tribute to
his fireman styled rain boots that he sings as he stomp-marches up and
down our hallway. Exposing kids to movement and music affirms these
expressive instincts and gives them a place to share their experience.
They see their own singing and dancing reflected in other people's
voices and bodies, and suddenly singing and dancing becomes a way of
knowing and experiencing community.

WWC: Do you have any tips for parents who want to incorporate more movement and creative play into their family's daily routine?

My kids are more encouraged to get dressed in the morning if they are
challenged to get ready by the end of a song (which ultimately leads to
them bopping along as they get ready). We also have "dance party" as a
family many nights after dinner to have fun together. My son is 7 and
getting a little more self-conscious, so it is great for him to see Mom
and Dad singing and dancing around. We also make up ditties for simple
tasks throughout our day to make the job seem less laborious (ie, "...a
spoonful of sugar").

Corey: When your child is playing, instead
of having the TV on for background noise, play some of your favorite
tunes! There are tons of kids' CD's on the market, and plenty of kids'
music albums made by our favorite contemporary bands, to make it
palatable for the moms and dads too! Try to act out the words to the
song, and bop along to the beat -- your child will follow along! Grab
some old silk scarves from your closet and swish them to the music.
Move them up, down, side to side, in spirals and in circles. Let them
stream behind you as you gallop along. Ask your child to move or dance
like a certain animal might move; this will get her little imagination
going, and you will be surprised at how creative she will be!

Freeze dance is the favorite movement activity in my house. My husband
is a musician, so we've got all kinds of instruments in our basement.
My son loves to bang on the drums while I dance and watch me freeze
when he stops. Then we switch, and he dances while I drum. You can do
it with the radio, a favorite CD, singing... anything that makes noise
can provide the stop and go accompaniment.

WWC: What are some of your favorite ways to introduce young kids to the arts here in Chicago?

There are so many opportunities in the city for arts! We live in the
suburbs and tend to use our public library and parks and recreation
systems to help expose our kids to performance and visual arts. We try
to take the kids to a live performance at least once during the year
and see live music as many times as possible throughout the summer
months (sponsored by park districts or Ravinia Festival). The festivals
in the city are always a favorite!

Corey: Look to the museums as
well as the dance, music, and theatre venues for anything that they
list as "family". For example, the Dance Center of Columbia College
offers a series called Family Dance, where certain professional dance
companies offer a matinee performance specifically geared to kids. In
many cases, the performance is somewhat interactive.

Annie: The
Family Dance Matinees at the Dance Center of Columbia College are
GREAT! There's such a wide array of movement experiences that the kids
can take part in through that series. We also love our "Everybody
Moves" class with Celeste Roy, where toddlers and parents sing and
dance together. There are a lot of great Parent and Tot music and
movement classes like that all over Chicago.

WWC: Do you have recommendations for music that will get little ones moving?

We love Ralph's World, Justin Roberts, the Philadelphia Chickens, Jana
Alayra (Christian singer), lots of pop/dance music (tunes by black Eyed
Peas, B52s and Mylie Cyrus), Free to be You and Me, Harry Connick Jr.
(Songs I Knew)...there are so many!

Corey: I have a few favorite
albums! They are "Songs I Heard" by Harry Connick, Jr.; "Jazz For Kids"
which is a compilation of various jazz and swing artists, either
performing kid-friendly jazz hits or classic kids songs done
jazz-style; and "For The Kids" which is compilation of alternative and
contemporary artists playing new and different versions of children's
songs you may be familiar with.

Annie: The "Just For Kids"
compilations are great because they're great for parents, too. Jim Gill
has a lot of great "get up and move" music. And we LOVE anything by
Steve Rashid. His "Let Me Hold Your Tiny Hand" is great for inspiring
slow, smooth movements that help to focus and calm an overly-excited
young one.

WWC: Tell us why we should bring our kids to the Family Dance Matinee this weekend?

I am bringing my kids and encouraging all the parents I know to attend
the JR family dance show. JRJP is full of so much rhythm, laughter,
goofiness to get the kids engaged, and FUN. The kids learn about
quarter notes and eight notes (how to keep time) and what the beat is
as well as syncopation of qualities of motion (among other movement
concepts). They get to experience live performance and interact with
the dancers. The content is high quality, engaging, and lots of fun for
all ages!

Corey: Jump Rhythm's Family Dance Matinee is the
perfect foray into dance and movement for you and your family. The
dancers are charismatic, enthusiastic balls of energy, who will grab
the attention of you and yours, with their exuberant approach to
movement. They will use their voices to sing the rhythms and encourage
the audience to join in! They will demonstrate how movement and energy
can be done with your whole body, down to your pinky finger, and I
guarantee that your child will be bopping in his seat along with them!
Your family will have the opportunity to see how dance can tell a
story, and you'll experience how watching movement can make you feel
happy inside!

Annie: Jump Rhythm taps right into that organic
sense of rhythmic song and dance that kids are born with. At the last
Jump Rhythm family performance I attended, the entire front row of kids
were up out of their seats and dancing along. Jump Rhythm makes that
kind of connection with kids. They see, hear and feel the rhythm of the
dancers in their own bodies --and its a rhythm that they already know.
The dancers are up there speaking to them in their own language - the
language of that first cry and squirm - and they love it!

These moms have me convinced -- I'll be attending this event with my three and five year-olds. See you there?


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